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Predicting the Dallas Mavericks’ New Offensive Style

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Bill Fitch-USA TODAY

With a new year brings 10 new players to the Dallas Mavericks. Having 10 new players will naturally bring some changes to the style of basketball, though, what that style it will be, only coach Rick Carlisle has any idea. Even Carlisle probably only has a general idea of the system he’s going to implement for his new players. Even so, some of the new players’ pasts could give an indication of what play style the Mavericks will incorporate this year.

Not necessarily the most popular free agency move, the signing of point guard Jose Calderon could end up being the most important signing of the last few years for the Mavericks. Last year, none of Dallas’ guards were able to make star Dirk Nowitzki‘s on-court life any easier, a task which should be the main goal for any point guard who suits up for the Mavericks. Calderon is one of the NBA‘s best pure pass-first playmakers, which should only help Dirk get the ball when he’s open and ready to score. Calderon should be able to bring a bit more ball movement to the Mavericks this year, something that was sorely lacking much of last season.

Dallas’ biggest signing this past offseason was undoubtedly shooting guard Monta Ellis. He had his best season back in 2007 for the Golden State Warriors, but averaged only just over 18 points per game during what most would describe as a disappointing stint with the Milwaukee Bucks. Ellis is a pure scorer, and if he can generate any offense in a two-man game with Dirk, then the two could end up being an unstoppable duo.

The last new addition to the starting lineup is center Samuel Dalembert. Another player from the Bucks, Dalembert should shore up some of the Mavericks’ post-defense deficiencies. While he doesn’t add much in the way of offensive game, his rebounding puts him in position for put backs and second-chance points. He should be good for some dunks off passes from Calderon as well.

The question is: How do these players, plus starting forward Shawn Marion, fit together for Carlisle? Ideally, Calderon will initiate most of the plays, being the best distributor on the team. With Calderon’s skills, it is reasonable to expect Carlisle to give him more control over the offense than Mike James or Darren Collison last year. This free-form offense benefited Dirk in the past when Jason Kidd was in the driver’s seat, so hopefully it will have a similar effect now.

Dirk should touch the ball on most possessions. He is one of the best offensive players in the history of the NBA, and his talents need to be taken better advantage of if this team is going to have any success. When Dirk has the ball, he will either take a shot, or if double-teamed, pass it to an open player. If Calderon is left open at the three-point line, he will absolutely devastate the opposing teams. He led the league in three-point field goal percentage last season, so knocking down weakside threes should come easily to him, much like they did for Kidd before him.

For the most part, Marion and Dalembert will get their points on cuts to the basket and second-chance points, but Ellis is a completely different animal. Dirk has never been paired with a player as adept at creating their own shot, so it will be interesting to see how Ellis will be able to get his shots without dominating the ball too much. Regardless of how he gets his own shot, in order to take the team to the next level, the Mavericks will need him to click quickly with Dirk. If they can come close to matching the two-man game that Dirk had with Jason Terry, the Mavericks could prove to be one of the best offensive teams in the league.

We won’t know for sure until a few games into the season, but it would appear that the Mavericks will mostly utilize a more free-flowing offensive style, with very few set plays. With premier shooters in Dirk and Calderon, as well as offensive powerhouse Ellis, there should be plenty of scoring coming from the starting lineup. They will most likely be a high-paced offense, really trying to push the ball when possible. This leaves a lot of questions for the defense, but it should at least be entertaining to watch.

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